BOSTON – This run that the Boston Celtics have been on has been nothing short of amazing for so many reasons.
For starters, no one saw this coming, not even the most die-hard Celtics fan.
It appeared to be even less of a possibility after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury which is expected to keep him out of action for the rest of the season.
After dropping the season opener when Hayward got hurt and the game against Milwaukee the following night, Boston has since found its groove and has been on the rebound – literally – ever since.
Boston’s work on the boards has been yet another surprise for a Celtics team that for years has been among the league’s worst rebounding clubs.
The Celtics have finished among the bottom-10 in rebounding percentage each of the last three seasons, a trend Boston seems poised to end after what has been a strong start on the boards.
Boston has out-scored and out-rebounded each of its last seven opponents. They have only had one streak longer than that in the last 30 years, and that was when they did it 11 straight games in December of 2008.
But as they prepare to host the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow night, several factors will come into play as Boston (9-2) tries to extend its league-best winning streak to 10 in a row.
Among those factors?
Rebounding, of course.
To say that Boston has done a better on the glass doesn’t do justice to how impressive their work around the rim has been this season.
Rebounding percentage is far more telling about how good a team is on the glass, than just about any other rebounding-related statistic.
Boston has a rebounding percentage of .533 which trails only Portland (.534).
As you delve deeper into those rebounding numbers, you quickly find one of the primary sources to the team’s top-ranked defense is their defensive rebounding percentage.
The Celtics rank 4th in the league in this category with a .814 percentage and by the 47.5 rebounds per game that Boston snatches, that ranks as the fifth-highest average.
No matter how you crunch the numbers, it adds to a Celtics team that has been an absolute beast on the boards this season – something that seemed highly unlikely considering the team didn’t add a player known to be a significant rebounder.
Boston’s success on the glass stems from the fact that they have significantly more length in the lineup which helps them defensively and when it comes to rebounding.
Jaylen Brown is 6-foot-7 playing the shooting guard position that was handled by 6-2 Avery Bradley. At the point, Kyrie Irving is 6-3 and he has replaced a fellow all-star, 5-9 Isaiah Thomas. The defensive void left by Jae Crowder and his muscular 6-6 frame at small forward has been filled by 6-8 Jayson Tatum who also has a 7-0 wingspan. And when 6-10 Aron Baynes starts, he provides significantly more muscle at center than Amir Johnson did last season and his ability to contest shots by way of the rule of verticality, helps himself as well as his teammates swoop in and grab a large share of rebounds.
Just about every starter in the Celtics’ lineup now has better length than their predecessor which has made defense and rebounding more manageable for Boston.
And maybe more important, provided the Celtics with just what they have needed in order to continue building off the success of last season’s squad by creating a club with a different identity, an identity that’s heavily rooted in strong work on the boards.